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Tyson v. King - 09-963 ( La. App. 3 Cir 02/03/10), 29 So. 3d 719

Rule:

The standard negligence analysis courts employ in determining whether to impose liability under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315 is the duty-risk analysis.

Facts:

To avoid a collision with a vehicle driven by defendant Floyd King, who had “blacked out” while driving, and encroached on the lane traversed by plaintiff Darlene Tyson, Tyson applied her brakes and lost control of her vehicle before coming to a stop on the roadway. As a result of her having to take this evasive action, Tyson allegedly sustained personal injury. There was no impact between the Tyson vehicle and the King vehicle, nor was there any impact with the Tyson vehicle and any other vehicle or object. Plaintiffs, Tyson and her spouse, filed suit against King and his automobile liability insurer, Property and Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford (Hartford). King and Hartford filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which the trial court granted on the sole basis of a lack of physical contact between the vehicles.

Issue:

Was it proper to grant the motion for summary judgment on the sole basis of a lack of physical contact between the vehicles driven by the plaintiff and the defendant?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The trial court held that the trial court's ruling constituted legal error as there was no statutory or jurisprudential requisite of a physical impact between vehicles for the imposition of liability in a personal injury case arising out of a motor vehicle accident. Rather, the proper analysis was the duty-risk analysis. According to the Court, the trial court should have determined whether the driver violated his statutory duty under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 32:79 to stay safely within his lane and whether a breach of that duty resulted in the motorist's injuries.

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